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After less than four hours deliberations, a jury declared Ruben Anthony Cepeda guilty of two counts of second-degree murder for shooting his pregnant girlfriend. The jury found true the allegation that Cepeda fired the weapon, but did not find true that the shooting was “intentional.”

The jury’s decision implies that even if the pulling the trigger was not intentional, the act of pressing a loaded gun to the belly of a pregnant woman was so knowingly dangerous and wanton that it created “implied malice,” the prosecutor explained after the verdict.

Medical examiner Dr. Steve Campman had testified that the bullet wound had “soot and searing around it” with no “stippling,” which he concluded meant it was a “contact” shot. Dr. Campman stated that blood loss of the mother caused blood loss and loss of oxygen and then death to the male fetus, which was 16-weeks gestation.

It was not disputed that Cepeda shot 18-year-old Viridiana Rodriguez the night of April 7, 2012, in Escondido, California.

“We’re pleased that the jury honored the life of an unborn the same as an adult victim,” prosecutor Keith Watanabe said after the verdict today, September 4, 2013.

Cepeda could be sentenced to 80 years to Life in prison, depending if the judge chooses to run times concurrent or not, according to the prosecutor.

The defendant has admitted that he has a prior conviction in the juvenile system for robbery, as a violent and “strike” offense; that occurred in 2007, when he was 16.

Ruben Anthony Cepeda, 22, is scheduled to be sentenced October 11 by the same judge who heard trial, Honorable Harry Elias, in San Diego’s North County Superior Courthouse, California.

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Comments

Visduh Sept. 5, 2013 @ 7:08 p.m.

"La vida loca", Escondido style. And so the dumb jerk spends what is basically the rest of his life in the joint. If he ever gets out, he'll be a broken old man.

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Eva Knott Oct. 25, 2013 @ 2:43 p.m.

Ruben Anthony Cepeda was sentenced to 40 years prison this morning, October 25, 2013. He will be eligible for parole after 38 years and six months in State prison, according to the prosecutor, Keith Watanabe.

“Leniency is in the eye of the beholder,” said the Honorable Judge Harry Elias. He spoke to both supporters of the defendant and family of the woman who was killed, in court today.

The father of the deceased, Jose Rodriguez, spoke to the judge before sentencing. The tall man leaned on a podium and wiped his eyes while he described how the tragedy affected his family. “I know there is a God who will heal me,” he said. “We are trying to find peace.” Mister Rodriguez concluded by wondering aloud if the judge had a daughter, “and I hope there will be justice.”

Ruben Cepeda took opportunity today to apologize to the family of the victim, and said the shooting was an accident. And he said, “I do think about this everyday, and I dream about it too.”

Before sentence was declared, defense attorney Jim Weintre asked the judge to “modify” the jury’s verdict from second-degree murder to involuntary manslaughter, but the judge declined. “I don’t believe the jury was confused,” Judge Elias said. He declared it was not “appropriate” for him to “arbitrarily” change the jury’s verdict.

Marianne Barrajas, the defendant’s mother, told the judge that the shooting was “not a malicious act” and begged the judge to “have some leniency.” Ms. Barrajas said “I had Ruben at a young age, I think I was fifteen” and she wanted to share some blame for his “juvenile troubles.” (Prosecutor Watanabe presented evidence that Ruben Cepeda had extensive criminal history as a juvenile, with multiple violent offenses, including robbery.)

Ruben Cepeda’s sister and aunt and grandmother also requested leniency. Grandma Sanders said “this was just a tragic accident” and “the damage is done” and “I wish that time served would be the end of it.” Judge Elias noted that Cepeda has 502 days “custody credit” as of today, October 25, 2013.

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